Skyrim Special Edition
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fenrir0054 Janquel

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Janquel

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About this mod

Catch-all page for explaining the interaction between Better Dynamic Snow and Parallax Textures, where end users may run into confusion with v2 vs v3, and a central location to toss my BDS patches

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Why are you here?

One of four reasons, most likely: you came to get a patch, someone linked you to explain about Better Dynamic Snow, someone linked you to explain about parallax, or you idly clicked out of curiosity. Questions involving BDS/parallax have rapidly become the most common questions I get as part of my patch collections, and while the answers are easy so long as it's accepted implicitly, the hows and whys of things can sometimes require a bit of background and detail. So let's begin:

What is BDS v2 and BDS v3?

So there is a lovely mod named Better Dynamic Snow which has been a staple of Skyrim SE for a long time now. In December 2020, Better Dynamic Snow updated from version 2.11 to version 3.0, and in the process changed to a new plugin - the previous versions having the plugin name "Better Dynamic Snow.esp" and the new version having the plugin name "Better Dynamic Snow SE.esp".

TechAngel85 does an excellent job of explaining the differences in the first sticky on the Discussions tab of that mod, so I will simply quote them, with some emphasis:

  • ... the name of the plugin was changed to reflect and force users to realize just how different the design of the mod is.
  • ... patches for previous versions are 99% not likely needed anymore due to the way the projected textures work. All the old shader and materials were doing were to replicate what the projected textures do in SE, but for LE. With the projected textures in SE, the old shader and materials are redundant. All the majority of patches were doing were forwarding our materials. In LE this was necessary, however, in SE the projected textures feature covers all of this now, therefore, as long as a projected diffuse texture is installed and the INI tweak is on, then the game does what BDS did all this time. So the only materials that are required are ones that suit our customizations. The vanilla materials will work for all the rest of the objects so there is no need to forward BDS materials via patches anymore.
  • ... the "parallax fix" mod will not work with v3 due to us taking advantage of the projected textures in SE. This "fix" mod breaks the game's use of projected textures because the two different shaders can't be used together on the same mesh. Therefore, if you want to keep the parallax "fix", then you'll have to continue using v2 of BDS

Simply put for end users these are different mods, and patches for one are not necessary, relevant, or applicable to the other one.

If you were linked here wondering why the master was not set on some patch you were looking to download, the patch is for the other version of Better Dynamic Snow, and not relevant to your load order. Is a patch needed for the version you have? Maybe! Probably not! But don't assume that because a patch exists for one version that one needs to exist for the other version.

But I don't use Better Dynamic Snow and was linked here because some texture wasn't loading and was grey or something. What about me?

So Skyrim modding is basically trying to break the engine over its knee at this point and do things which it wasn't designed to do. One of these things is parallax. You almost certainly have the SSE Parallax Shader Fix (BETA) installed. It's a SKSE plugin that injects parallax shaders into SSE, which we have access to because aers is a goddamn wizard. And so we've got tons of people out there taking advantage of it like Skyrim 2020 Parallax by Pfuscher. I don't know how they do it, it's magic. Buuuuut, when parallax shaders are applied that way, when snow shaders are applied, things wig out and we get images like this:


(Image showing the exterior of the Hall of the Vigilant - the walls, beams, steps, porch, and much of the roof are almost entirely a solid shade of white)

or this:


(Image showing Morthal exterior - the wooden steps, walkways, and parts of some buildings are mostly a solid shade of white)


That is the engine trying to load parallax textures on something with vanilla snow shaders and wigging out. Better Dynamic Snow version 2's method of applying the snow shaders to statics can fix this (I'm not entirely sure that the parallax effect is applied with the workaround in place, but the textures load correctly at least). So if you want to use parallax textures and run into this, it can be worked around by using Better Dynamic Snow version 2.

I've got Better Dynamic Snow version 2, but still see this

You will need a Better Dynamic Snow patch! You've probably got a mod which creates a new static which points to vanilla textures (which are getting their parallax replacers), but the statics in question have vanilla snow shaders, instead of the BDS shaders, so BDS isn't getting applied to them. There may be an existing BDS v2 patch that addresses it, but if there isn't, you can generate your own easily usiung SSEEdit or Synthesis.
  • You can download the SSEEdit patcher here (instructions are in the description). This will create a single plugin that should replace essentially all your BDS patches.
  • You can also use Synthesis, an automated patcher tool, (installation instructions and more info can be found at https://github.com/Mutagen-Modding/Synthesis/wiki/Installation). In summary, run Synthesis, find BDSPatcher in the git repository patcher list, and click the + to add it. you can then run this alongside other Synthesis patchers, or by itself. This too will create one plugin that should replace your existing BDS patchers.

I'm less personally familiar with it, but a few days ago there was also a Material Objects Disabler mod that was released, which may be directly relevant to your interests/needs - give it a look and see if that might apply. One of the folks behind that provided the following description:

Pretty much anything with a single pass shader will cause parallax to fail and create the white/grey/blue noise... and some of vanilla material shaders are single pass... including all the snow ones and the sulfur ones.

BDS v2 is a multi-pass shader, which parallax works with. Better Dynamic Ash is also multi-pass. Then there are the sulfur shaders which nothing really addresses. So the material disabler shuts off the single-pass shaders that aren't managed by BDS or BDA. It's not a solution for everything, though, because some mods create their own custom single-pass shaders and apply them to custom objects. Only a patch specific to those mods can fix that. It's not super common though.


Okay, that's great and all, but I want to use parallax textures with Better Dynamic Snow version 3 not version 2, or maybe just want to use parallax without either version, but I'm still getting the texture problems!

Sorry, don't know what to tell you?

Modding is all about tradeoffs and finding what we most want, but we all have constraints that we're working within. In those situations, the only real piece of advice I can provide is downloading NifSkope and SSEEdit, looking at what object has the texture which you're not seeing in xEdit, getting the mesh path, opening the mesh in NifSkope, looking up what texture that mesh is using, and disabling that texture (or, alternatively, removing the snow shader from the static in xEdit but that could end up looking weird as hell). It's a lot of work, but hey - you do you!

Or you could learn a ton about the back end of the engine and make a proper fix that doesn't require a workaround and everyone would love you forever <3

Anyway, the files tab on this page is a dumping ground for the v3 patches (which frequently aren't actually needed) and v2 patches (which definitely aren't needed - use the xEdit/synthesis patchers instead, seriously) from my various collections to offload and collect all them in one spot with an explanation as to why no one actually needs to use them, or ask about them :D


Thanks to the multiple folks who gave this a quick once-over before upload, but especially to rbfqueen for her detailed suggestions :)